More to say on the AALL Antitrust Proposal and Reaction

Yesterday afternoon, several hours after online discussion of the AALL draft Antitrust Policy became active, organization president Joyce Manna Janto sent out a mass email to membership and posted remarks announcing the consideration of the proposal by the board, and assuring readers that the draft would not be adopted by the board “as written.”  In the message, President Janto goes on to welcome comments on the proposal and thank those who have already commented.  In the meantime, Internet-facilitated discussion of the proposal continues.  This morning at Out of the Jungle, Betsy McKenzie likened her relationship with AALL to one with a longtime love whom she no longer trusts.  Betsy finds that the some of the text of the proposal tracks antitrust language from trade marketing associations, organizations that are quite unlike AALL.  And Greg Lambert points out the simplicity and appropriateness of the language used by the American Library Association, item 13 at  If these simple guidelines are good enough for the ALA, an organization of more than 62,000 members (about twelve times the size of AALL) with that many more opportunities to influence purchasing behavior, then similar ones ought be good enough for AALL.  Maybe we ought to look into retaining their counsel as well.

Much of the discussion this week has focused not merely on the substance of the proposal, but on what at least some perceive as an opaque process for drafting and considering it.  For example, although the proposal appears in the agenda for Thursday’s executive board meeting, no special publicity was provided, even after the much-discussed AALL Vendor Colloquium earlier this year.  Many members criticized the non-public format of that event.  Whether or not one agrees with the rationale for restricting real-time access to the colloquium, the situation gave plenty of ammunition to critics of the board.  In the case of the proposal, the timing seems very unfortunate, in that the board will consider it at its regularly scheduled meeting two days before most AALL members attending the annual meeting arrive in Philadelphia, and four days before the initial meeting of a group trying to form an AALL Consumer Advocacy Caucus.  Whether or not true, it is not unreasonable for one aware of this scheduling to wonder whether the board scheduled its consideration at this time in order to have a strong policy in place as the caucus attempts to get started.

Let me state flat-out that I have not lost hope for the association or its current leadership, as I infer that some others have.  However, our current executive board and its successors need to give serious thought to the negative perceptions that are being cast about, whether wittingly or unwittingly.  And all members of AALL, not merely the board,  need to offer an answer to this question: How can the board of an association, duly elected and charged with managing the operation of that organization, go about that business while offering the membership the opportunity and means to offer timely informed comment on issues of wide concern?

One thought on “More to say on the AALL Antitrust Proposal and Reaction

  1. I am one of those Members who has lost hope in the leadership. I have lost hope because I have lost my trust in the administration. Even if legal counsel has issued a legal opinion, the point of leadership is to lead. Common sense would alert astute leaders that more “counsel” would be warranted when given such conservative advice – especially knowing that it would not sit well with inquisitive colleagues. And, astute leaders would tirelessly pursue all options available and present them to their association, group, staff, or whatever it is you lead. They would not skulk behind unadvertised PDF documents. AALL remains a viable group in spite the people who supposedly lead us and because its Members are awesome. We deserve better leaders.

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